Fire on Water: a sneak preview



A sneak preview of my latest Poetry Collection,
                      Fire on Water
published by Ginninderra Press, South Australia.

Thank you to Stephen Matthews for such a professional presentation,
and my daughter Elizabeth Keating-Jones for the creative cover.
As a first step I took a few copies to the Society of Women Writers, July luncheon
and they sold like hot cakes. I am appreciative of such encouragement.

The poems in Fire on Water are divided into 7 sections .
Poems are as diverse as ‘visissitudes of a blue butterfly’
and ‘counting dead women.’





One of the poems included is  ‘ in search of Hildegard of Bingen’  which was short-listed for the Society of Women Writers Poetry Competition 2016 and which has recently been translated into German by Annette Esser  (Theologian, Scholar, Art Therapist and Teacher) to be included in a journal in Germany published September 2017 to celebrate the opening of a Pilgrimage Way that has been planned and worked on by Annette for many years now.  It will be opened on 17th September 2017. Hildegard’s feast day.

It is called Hildegardweg.  Attraktion fur Pilger und Wanderer.

The logo for the Hildegardweg is below. If you ever go to the Rhineland look for this sign and put your walking boots on.

Michael and I plan to do it when the International version opens in September 2019. Hmmm that means we will have to get into training!



The logo for the Hildegardweg in the Rhineland Germany

Fire on Water is my second collection of poetry and follows A Call to Listen . (2014).

Date for launch of Fire on Water  is to be announced.
The launch date is TBA

black swan event






black swan event

see on a lonely stretch of water
a wind choreographed dance
of black swans
noble stance
elegant moves
they dabble in brackish shallows
close in amongst the reeds

was it a shifty wind
that blew them in
was it the algae and duckweed
that`lured them
rare on this side of the lake

they dip their red beaks
then their long curved necks
like question marks
lift and stretch

sometimes not so elegantly
they up-end
bottoms in the air
black tutus flounced

some lift off fleetingly
with a wonk wonk wonk
running on water across the lake
their wide white-tipped black wings
bellow-beat the water
and with a whistling sound
like ballerinas glide back

how I’d like to get closer
even for a moment
let them know I am their friend
they are aware of me
and with each of my forward steps
they languidly glide further out

Colleen Keating

tokyo train

tokyo train

on a train
in cramped and swaying space
grey suited brief case smells
stuffy conforming silence

Speed shifts the strap i grip
feet rock in time to its rhythm
a dark blur of mean-shaped high-rise
corridor the tracks

blank faces caught
in alien worlds of electronics
outside flashing neon shout at numbness

we the night commuters
a brace of anonymity
breathe each others air
and pretend we’re not there

only my eyes out the window
beam as i glimpse the moon smiling on me
as she does on you in a distant land

tokyo markets



(FILE) November 10, 2012, Tokyo, Japan - The bustling Tsukiji Market, officially called Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Although best known for its seafood, the market also sells vegetables, fruit, beef and poultry. It handles more than 400 different types of seafood and employes more than 60,000 people. Together with two other Tokyo wholesale markets Tsukiji Market handles an incredible 675,000 tons of marine products a year. The first fish market in Tokyo was established near the Nihonbashi bridge, starting point of the important Tokaido road connecting Tokyo with Kyoto. After the market was leveled by the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923, it was relocated to the Tsukiji district, nearby Tokyo's famed Ginza Avenue. A modern market was completed here in 1935 and is still used today. But not much longer. In 2014 the market is slated to be moved to new facilities on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay. (Kjeld Duits/AFLO)
 Tokyo, Japan – The bustling Tsukiji Market,  is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Although best known for its seafood, the market also sells vegetables, fruit, beef and poultry and sweets and sweets and sweets. It handles more than 400 different types of seafood and employes more than 60,000 people. Together with two other Tokyo wholesale markets Tsukiji Market handles an incredible 675,000 tons of marine products a year.

tokyo markets
jammed with strolling locals
baskets and bags knocking and nodding
bustling shoulder to shoulder
the markets absorb
and huddle the people
here it’s about the splurge of living
here life pulsates
under swaying red lanterns

a lively buzz and brackish tang
lures me
to a cool sea-wash briny world
octopus tuna and sword fish
on rock salt and ice
eyes stare blankly
lobsters tap panic-like the glass of the tank
mackerel beat their tails in a shallow dish
crabs crawl and clamour over each other
a gasping fish with throbbing gills
waits on a sacrificial wet grey-scale altar
deep guttural cries of skilled hands
in wet galoshes and plastic caps
tout their wares sharpening their knives

a willow of a boy in the corner
with kokoro and pride in his stance
chants a mantra to buy his shrimp
his shrill soprano voice
in harmony with the rhythm of the sea
catches me as water sloshes underfoot


vendors flaunt boxes of sweets
their chants like a rehearsed choir
blend in harmony
pasted deep red azuki beans
coloured in chestnut hydrangea blue
cherry blossom peach and grape
are jellied and displayed to allure

the pied pipers of the food markets
in coloured caps cry out oishi oishi
and woo with samples on bamboo toothpicks
from sizzling pans and hot plates
crisp aromas that waft
crowds swarm like bees to a hive
at displays of tempura  teriyaki  sushi and soba
each on a bed of fringed green plastic leaves

i am immersed in the chaos of humanity
and feel at home



kokoro: with heart feeling energy

oishi: delicious

azuki beans: red skinned sweet beans, basis of most japanese sweets

dispossession 2

dispossession 2


today a dusty sun slants sepia light
an eerie still scene of a shanty town
on the outskirts of Lima in Peru

monotone brown
ruins rubble rubbish scant vegetation
brown dusty brown

the dispossessed
in makeshift shelters
never ending palette of desolation

here on the outskirts of Lima
like a barnacled mass they cling

one night ten years ago
in india
i lay in your arms weeping for the poor
having seen the sorrow in a mother’s eyes
felt the touch of a begging hand
and i asked why

here they do not look
they turn away
a water truck comes
to refill drums
for those who can afford water
earlier it had freely watered green grass
of our resort with its luxury pool

when i walk away
i do not weep
answers would choke with dust
i don’t even know the questions
just crave your arms around me
against this inequality

dispossession 1



“Without our land there is no life”

dispossession 1


black marble horsemen
with helmets medals and guns
celebrating the history of conquests
dominate santiago’s plaza des armas

yet i’m drawn by an abstract monument
catching morning light
history’s cry is its caption
without our land there is no life

its massive basalt boulders
circle like a gossip of standing stones
and mounted high
on a roughly hewn second tier
chiselled cracked and cut
as if lightening spilt the rocks
a shadowed noble face
bigger than life
its carved wistful eyes
look beyond the plaza people pigeons
to the mountain
once home of the mapuche people

around its base children play
lovers cuddle adults chatter
while first people still with indomitable spirit
bear memories of dispossession



(crisis of faith)

in the morning light a thousand prisms
reveal colours never seen
a comet strikes the day
shattered glass barrier broken
exposed and vulnerable
empty space leaves nowhere to stand

the distant spire
pierces a retiring blue sky
bells scatter the air into notes
childhood faith shattered
the crud of doubt reframes the vision
elusive as the horizon

betrayal brands its mark
burns on flesh
illusion sears to truth
the wound in its rawness aches
and journey back to self
treads on emptiness

the space between

The name of the poetry book is taken from the idea of this poem. This poem was inspired by a visit to the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra where portraits of my two favourite women poets were hanging by each other. I do not have pictures of the actual portraits. The following ones are pictures I like of them.

Oodgeroo-Noonuccal-narrow (1)


the space between

two women poets
hang side by side
in the portrait gallery

contained now

the space between
has its story
of times around the kitchen table
when these two women
saw other ways of being

words their weapon
justice their spirited charge
to break the wall of apathy
lift us beyond its rubble
give us new possibilites

oodgeroo noonuccal white-washed as kath walker
with sombre dark eyes and black skin

she anchored herself in hope
survived its instability
and kept it alive

judith walker social conscience
soft wrinkled sun-dried face in wide brimmed hat

a peace warrior she raged at injustice
her words a cry
against ignorance and greed
together they gaze out
calling us to listen

(Oodgeroo Noonuccal 1920-1993 and Judith Wright 1915-2000
poets, activists and friends)